Notes from the Library
I recently moved my library of books and found all sorts of old notes stuck into the bindings, here are a few little pieces.
The Culture of Wilderness is phenomena separate from Landscape. The domestication of trees, forests, grasslands for human welfare is productive and community-centered while the notion of wilderness is private, dangerous, and elusive. It is at best a retreat into the unknown, a test of oneself, a challenge with the greater spirit, and at worst a whole-on slaughter of the magical, unknowable realm (such as are told over and over again in the myths and adventures that go wrong).
When we move out from home to community, we become part of a public realm that asks us to think more broadly about the world than the immediate needs of the hearth, the private fire of heart and home. Community Space is by definition a coming together, … thus compromise. And as we dance together, the rhythmic movement only gets better when we avoid stepping on one another’s feet.
As the work of collectivizing occurs—associations and specialization begin to define people away from home, to create substitutes, and new affinities. The third realm of space is Cosmic. In our search for meaning, we look to the sky, the sea, the Universe itself. This reaching out from ourselves, in effect, is an awakening to the fact that existence is much deeper, older, phenomenal than our specific life.
We may follow a thread to the mysterious places, either physical or spiritual… but either way the test is both. You cannot climb the highest mountain on strength alone, you cannot survive a meditative retreat on spirit alone—at some point it becomes physical endurance as much as the mountain demands a spiritual resilience.
Yet our confusion persists. We make out that conquering of America was a thing of wild, burly men in pursuit of the Holy Grail—gold and freedom from the constraints and burdens of the eastern cities. History was written this way to suit the armchair adventurers, historians, and religious traditions. It was both worse in terms of greed and slaughter of buffalos and Native Americans, and better in terms of the average migrant. Many individuals went in peace. But they were not the railroad companies, the American Army, nor the church missionaries.
- 271: “A walk expresses space and freedom and the knowledge of it can live in the imagination of anyone, and that is another space too.” Richard Long, English artist
And to think how many people around the world still walk, exist by walking… Yet we want to indoctrinate them into cars, into factories, into meaningless existence and a chase of the elusive dollar. For example, Beijing, once a highly complex bike-oriented city, has since the 1990s become a car-driven society overwhelming all of its history, character, and neighborhoods. We too are over-run even as we fight for bike-lanes and street crossings.
As we commodify our sidewalks, we privatize them into non-public access. Street cafés start out welcoming and soon become the realm of the marketplace. There is nothing democratic about the marketplace, as we know it in America. It exists to profit the owner. That I am offered a share in it by investing belies the control and decision-making. A marketer has little incentive to share his profit. So as I sit in the public park and take up space I am in the way of those wanting to profit from Space herself. When did ownership of space, control of the rules, and the ability to extract profit come to dominate the urban/rural landscape?
- 278 Las Vegas is emblematic of the USA, not the exception. It is where tourism reigns, and locals are invisible. They are support, not the attraction. The place is theirs, but not for them.
- 289 Musings and Space for thought.